DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

Who is Robert Moog?

He was the Steve Jobs of Electronica. Robert Moog created the Moog synthesizer, one of the very first electronic musical instruments. And recently Google’s Doodle celebrated the 78th birthday of this electronic genius with–believe it or not–an actual working synthesizer.


The Google Doodle for May 23, 2012 is an interactive Moog synthesizer.  

A Sound Idea
The Moog synthesizer has drifted in and out of style, first coming to prominence during the time of its creation and greatest use–the 60s and 70s. It was patented in the mid 60s, and then was utilized in classic hits from all kinds of music – from The Beatles classic “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” to The Doors “Strange Days,” which was one of the earliest uses of the Moog synth. 

More recently, app developers and independent creators who learn how to develop iPhone and iPad apps, have made apps that re-create the classic synthesizer. It’s amazing to see this old-school analog technology being adapted in the digital age. More interestingly, how the lower price of the “digital version” of the keyboard has made it more accessible.


Bob Moog at his workbench building another synth. 

The Moog keyboard has been a staple of modern music since its creation and continues to inspire and bring to life great music. Let’s take a look back at some Moog classics:

  • The Doors “Strange Days” (1967) One of the earliest uses of a Moog synth, this song features the moody sound of the instrument (played to perfection by the band’s keyboardist, Ray Manzarek) rolling behind Jim Morrison’s booming voice.
  • The Beatles “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (1969) The “Abbey Road” album has several Moog songs, but none as amazing as the closing track on Side One, where a building wall of synthesized white noise finally overtakes the song.
  • Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” (1975) The progressive space-rock group’s classic ode to loneliness is delivered using the Moog sound.
  • Donna Summer “I Feel Love” (1977) The recently departed Queen of Disco melted turntables with this pulsating romantic song, whose main sound is the Moog (played by keyboardist Giorgio Moroder).
  • Blondie “Heart of Glass” (1979) Blondie charted an international Number One single (it sold nearly 3.5 million copies) with this New Wave/Disco song. It features not only a Moog synthesizer but it’s also the first use of a Roland CR-78 drum machine on recorded single.
  • Coldplay “Paradise” (2011) The band uses a wide range of synth sounds on this track, along with its traditional piano and guitar attack.

Numerous other artists and bands have created tracks with a Moog synthesizer, including musical acts as diverse as the Beastie Boys, Parliament, Santana, Stevie Wonder and The Doors. More recently, artists like Deadmau5 and Alicia Keys have also been spotted using a Moog.

Watch Brett Domino play Daft Punk’s Aerodynamic using the Google synth. 

Living in an Electronic World
Although his invention was embraced by musicians around the world (even today by students eager to learn music production or those who want to learn how to make your own beats), Robert Moog remained humble, stating “I’m an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers. They use my tools.”

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or- SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by Phill Powell in Featured and have No Comments

Music Legends: Dick Clark

It was the place to be and he made it all happen. For 47 years, pop music’s television home was “American Bandstand” and the gentleman who hosted the long-running program was Dick Clark, who passed away yesterday at the age of 82.


Often called “America’s oldest teenager,” Clark was still in his twenties when he first took “American Bandstand” to a national audience.

Clark was many things besides the cheerful, unflappable host of “Bandstand.” A one-man media empire, Clark worked as if he were single-handedly trying to create enough programs to fill an entire network. He concepted and hosted game shows such as “The $10,000 Pyramid,” (which eventually morphed into “The $100,000 Pyramid”) and award shows like the “American Music Awards,” not to mention “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve,” which became an essential component of holiday festivities. He wasn’t into learning music production, but he dabbled in film production and appeared on camera in a couple of theatrical roles.


A one-man production dynamo, Clark also founded the American Music Awards, several of which were won by his friend, Michael Jackson. Clark had first introduced the nation to The Jackson Five on “Bandstand” in 1970.

But Clark will always be most closely associated with “Bandstand,” which at first was just another televised teenage dance party broadcast from a Philadelphia TV station. (At that time, most American cities large enough to have a television station had some type of similar program.) Clark’s triumph was to convince the ABC network to carry “Bandstand” as part of its national line-up. By 1957, the program was being run coast-to-coast and well on its way to becoming a national institution.


This was how “Bandstand” first looked. Constant dancing and interviews with the teen dancers. One popular feature: Rate-A-Record. (Sample interview response: “It had a good beat and it was easy to dance to. I give it an 85.”)

Stars on 45
Who appeared on “American Bandstand”? A better question is who didn’t. Pop icons such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Beach Boys, Prince, Chuck Berry, The Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, KISS and James Brown all made the scene.

And as pop music evolved through the years, “Bandstand” worked to keep up with all the changes. When Motown began to dominate pop charts in the 60s, acts like Marvin Gaye and The Supremes appeared on the show. As the 70s Disco craze grew, artists such as Donna Summer and K.C. & The Sunshine Band were showcased. When Punk gave way to New Wave, “Bandstand” remained hip enough to feature emerging bands like Blondie and DEVO.

During the 80s, “Bandstand” brought national exposure to the first generation of Rap artists (including Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys and LL Cool J.), as well as to classic Rock bands of the day (e.g., Talking Heads, R.E.M.). And while it’s true that the program tended to focus on pop music’s softer sounds, the show did plenty to introduce audiences to hard Rock. If not, why would rockers like Aerosmith, The Doors and Steely Dan have bothered to appear?


By the 80s, music had changed plenty. Here Clark interviews Run-D.M.C., one of the first Rap acts to make it big.

“American Bandstand” finally left the airwaves in 1989, but that didn’t stop Clark from staying busy. Neither did a traumatic 2004 stroke that partially impaired his ability to speak. Clark remained the host of his New Year’s Eve show, although he finally shared hosting responsibilities with “American Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest.


Dick Clark bravely continued to host “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” after a serious stroke partially slurred his speech.

Clark (who was born in Bronxville, New York) was thrice married and had three grown children—not to mention an extended family of millions of television viewers who both liked and respected him. At the end of each broadcast of “American Bandstand,” Dick Clark would stand at his podium, always smiling and impeccably dressed in suit and tie, while dancing teenagers continued to whirl around him. He’d invite us back next week, say “So long” and always give a casual salute.

Right back at ya, Mr. Clark… 

The Music Legends series pays tributes to influential artists (in this case, music personalities) and styles of music. If you have an artist or type of music you’d like us to showcase, let us know via the comments.

SIGN IN TO LEAVE A COMMENT -or- SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS:

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by Phill Powell in Music Production,News Blog and have No Comments